Though I was well aware of the medicinal properties of psychedelic compounds, I knew going to an ayahuasca retreat was considered the most healing amongst the psychedelic community. I had previous experience with psychedelics and always found them to contribute to positive action by challenging negative thought patterns. A week after the ayahuasca experience I got sober, I stayed sober, and at the time of writing this article I am over 4 years sober. I plan to summarize the theory as to why ayahuasca was so medicinal for the illness of addiction and depression. This article isn’t meant to go over the details of the experience as much as what I got from the experience itself. The details of an ayahuasca experience are impossible to describe.
How an Ayahuasca Retreat Helped Save My Life
Going into the ayahuasca retreat experience I was an addict that wanted to get better. I sought out ayahuasca as a medicine, the drive came from a need to get better and not knowing how. Because of this, I held onto whatever I could grasp within the experience that challenged my current belief system so the experience could benefit me long-term. The experience itself was incredibly uncomfortable and bizarre, beyond what words can express. I can, however, express what it is I brought back that helped me stay sober.
- It surfaced emotions I previously was suppressing – I use to tell people “I just like to get high” and believed it in my heart of hearts. To an outside observer, this statement made me look insane. People just like a lot of things, pizza, Netflix, video games, etc. but clearly someone has to more than just like something to put everything, including their life, and jeopardy to have it. The truth is, I more than liked narcotics and alcohol I needed them. They were the serum that would cover up any discomforting emotion I had by replacing it with a sense of well-being. The brief moments of relief were merely an illusion that caused me to avoid the problem so much I refused to actively seek a long-term solution. An analogy is it was like putting a bandaid on an infected wound without treating the infection. Under the influence of ayahuasca the infection was exposed and I was put between a rock and a hard place forced to solve it within a short period of time. All of the underlying emotions that contributed to my addiction were staring me straight in the eyes for the duration of the experience. I was forced to look at the negative affirmations I would tell myself subconsciously and replace them with positive ones, work through anxiety with deep breathing and letting go of control, see how insignificant the resentments were that dictated my life. Because I was forced to do this to an extreme within a window, it taught me how to do this in regular day-to-day life. Learning to deal with these emotions without narcotics or alcohol for 6 hours was boot-camp style training on how to deal with emotions without addictive behaviors sober.
- It challenged my perception – Addiction is considered a brain disease, since the brain controls how we perceive the world it almost could be called an illness of perception. Psychedelics alter perception and ayahuasca as considered the most profound psychedelic in the world. It makes sense if something is disturbed it needs to be altered. If someone has a broken leg it needs to be altered for it to be put back in place. My perception of addiction before ayahuasca was it wasn’t that big of a deal and I was only affecting myself. To a non-addict it was the direct opposite, my addiction was killing me and destroying everyone around me. This is the gap of perception between a non-addict and an addict. I would see my mom not finish a margarita and my mind would exclaim, “That’s a waste of alcohol!” Meanwhile, my mom would see me drowning in shots and not understand why I can’t just stop. Ayahuasca bridged the gap of perception, I saw my addiction exactly how a non-addict would see it. I would look at memories as an outside observer and see how it was so destructive while wondering “why can’t I just stop?” This temporary window of perception stuck with me even after the experience.
- It connected me to The Divine – Whatever you want to call it, God, the universe, nature, ayahuasca connected me with something bigger than myself. Having been extremely will-driven for years, my will had run riot. I needed to be connected to something stronger than my will because my best decisions landed me in horrible situations. On ayahuasca there was a sense of astonishment for everything I took for granted, life, nature, living beings, etc. It was like being re-connected to my youth and seeing the world as a kid again, when going outside was still fun. This restoration of innocence and respect for what I had made me realize how selfish and locked in a box I had been in my disease. It made me see the whole addiction as a bottom keeping me from living life to it’s fullest where prior the bottom were singular events that attributed to direct negative consequences.
If you’re considering going on an ayahuasca retreat, I hope this article helped clarify some medicinal benefits I had. If you’re going to try ayahuasca, be sure to do it where it’s legal (an ayahuasca retreat) so you’re safe! Check out the embedded video for a more thorough video explanation from the author of this article!
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more objective drug education!
Philip Markoff (Associate of Science) is an online influencer and thought leader on addiction education; he is known as his alias “CG Kid” who’s obtained a large audience primarily on YouTube as a vlogger and journalist. His current sobriety date from polysubstance chemical dependency is June 9th, 2013.